Friday, September 12, 2008

New Toy: Acer Aspire One 150L

Since yesterday 11pm I have my shiny new toy: A Acer Aspire One 150L Netbook Computer. Intel Atom CPU, 1GB RAM, 1200x600 pixels and less than 1kg of weight should make it the ideal travel companion. The "L" in the name means that this is the first computer I ever bought that came with Linux preinstalled. What distinguishes it from its competitors (like the Asus Eec PC) is that it has a proper hard drive which has comfortable 120GB and not just a tiny solid state disk. The thing comes for 349 Euros from (I have seen it for US$350 at Best Buy in San Francisco).

Of course, such a brand new device comes with a number of things to tweek. And not all solutions easily found by just googling. Therefore, I will keep updating this post to record what I have done so far:
  • The thing comes out of the box and boots in a few seconds into some desktop with application icons all over the place. What is missing is a terminal window! But you can use the file system browser to run /usr/bin/terminal which is a good start.
  • During set-up you have to come up with a password. It turns out, this is then set both as root password and as a password for the preconfigured user "User". I have not yet dared to set the root password to something else and to rename user "User" to "robert" since the build in applications might assume that I am User.
  • Once you have a terminal you should run (as root) xfce-setting-show as this allows you to turn on the pop-up menu when right clicking on the desktop.
  • In this pop-up menu you can find a package manager. I becomes obvious that this Linux is based on fedora and the conflict resolution just plain sucks. But it's better than nothing and you can eventually install openssh to be able to log in to uni. I hope that I will have a Debian running on this machine but currently the corresponding web sites still look a bit scary.
  • They have preinstalled a vpnc client. But they forgot to include the tunneling kernel module tun.ko . This gives nasty error messages about /dev/net/tun . Luckily, this module is available here . Just download it to /lib/modules/ and reboot (or insmod it).
Update: Included some links.


Ramon Cahenzli said...

I'd agree that the conflict resolution doesn't really hold up. I've always been a fan of Debian-based systems.

Keep an eye out for the next Ubuntu release (8.10), they have some nifty features for netbooks and apparently the thing installs and runs fine out of the box on the Aspire One and the EeePC, perhaps also the MSI Wind.

andrew said...

I've taken the time to install Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) onto this model, and everything works fine out of the box.

sbaros said...

I made the thing dual-boot with the "barebones" Mythbuntu distribution included in the last 2008 Linux Format issue and then apt-get-installed loads of software and utilities from the internet. It now cooperates with all my previous accessories, including an overantiquated parallel printer through USB-parallel adapter. The combination of both operating systems allows me to do about everything. I am in the process of publishing my experience in my website.